It seems like that many PIIGS companies with significant international business operations try to transform their companies in some way or another in order to get rid of the “PIIGS” discount. Basically a first mover was Hellenic Botteling, which delisted in Greece and relisted as Swiss based company in the UK market in 2012. A second, very succesful attempt was made by Autogrill, spinning off the international business.
Now, a few days ago, Portugal Telecom (PTC), the Portuguese TelCo with a large Brazilian subsidiary, came up with a potential new way:
They want to merge with the Brazilian TelCo OI and effectively become a Brazilian Telecom company with a Portuguese subsidiary.
This alone is in my opinion already an interesting special situation. But it gets even more interesting. The structure of the merger is quite complicated, but in general, there will be a merger plus capital increase.
For Portugal Telecom shareholders, it looks like the following:
Each Oi common share will be exchanged for 1 share in CorpCo, and each Oi preferred share will be swapped for 0.9211 CorpCo stock. Each Portugal Telecom share will be the equivalent of 2.2911 euros in CorpCo shares to be issued at the price of the capital hike, plus 0.6330 CorpCo shares.
So on a first look, this looks interesting for Portugal Telecom shareholders. The lower the price of the capital increase, the higher the share in the combined company. Clever Hedge funds might even be able to construct a short OI long PTC trade. Although there is a corridor where either PTC or OI can step back from the transaction if prices would move too strongly in one or the other direction.
Some figures / ratios:
Market cap 3.1 bn EUR
Market Cap 6.5 bn BRL (~2.1 bn EUR)
Both companies carry significant debt.
The share prices of both companies reacted at first positively, but in the recent days, OI shares dropped quite significantly and PTC is back to where it was before (after hitting +30% in the first day):
This might be the reaction to the large cash capital increase undertaken by OI in the course of the deal:
As part of the merger, Oi proposes to undertake a cash capital increase of a minimum of R$ 7.0 billion (Euro 2.3 billion), and with a target of R$ 8.0 billion (Euro 2.7 billion) to improve the balance sheet flexibility of CorpCo. Shareholders of Telemar Participações S.A. (“Tpart”) and an investment vehicle managed by Banco BTG Pactual S.A. (“BTG Pactual”), will subscribe approximately R$ 2.0 billion (Euro 0.7 billion) of the cash capital increase
So from an OI shareholder point of view, one could argue that this exercise is somehow quite dilutive.
For some PTC shareholders, the problem might be that the suddenly do not hold a Portuguese/European stock but a Brazilian one. According to the official announcement, the new stock will be listed in Brazil, US and on NYSE Euronext, so technically it should be not a problem for shareholders.
On the “plus side” for this transaction one could argue with the following points
+ A Portuguese company with a potential “PIIGS” discount will be “transformed” into a potential BRIC growth story.
+ The valuation of the overall group might improve as well, as the OI pref shares will cease to exist
+ As PTC shareholder, there is an additional opportunity with regard to the OI share capital increase. The lower the price for the new shares, the higher will be the percentage in the new company
+ it is very likely that the deal will go through. The CEO of both companies is the same guy and regulators will have no reason to object
+ part of the synergies (i.e. lower refinancing costs) might be relatively easy to achieve.
On the other hand, there are also some clear issues:
– Brazil itself is not in the “sweet spot” anymore
– OI itself is struggling. Being only the number 4 mobile operator, especially ROA and ROE is far below the competition
– in the presentation, the CEO committed to pay 500 mn BRL p.a. in dividends. Including the new shares, this will result in a much lower dividend yield going forward from the current 7-8%. As they want to grow, this makes sense, but for some investors this could be an issue
– debt will be relatively high, further capital increase in combination with acquisitions are not unlikely
At the moment, I need to dig a little bit more deeply into this, but in order to keep me motivated and interested, I take a 0.5 % position at current prices (3.40 EUR per share) in Portugal Telecom for my “special situation” bucket.
DISCLAIMER: As always, do your own research. This is not meant to be any kind of investment advise. When publishing this, the author will most likely own the stock already. Do not blindly follow any tips etc. Use your own brain. The author will also most likely sell the stock before posting this on his website.